Meet the Pirate Pastor

My name is Shawn Birss.

I am a follower of Jesus living simply with my spunky wife and precocious twin toddlers in the heart of Edmonton, the frozen capital of Alberta, Canada. I like punk rock and roots country. I am tattooed, branded, and bespectacled. Social injustice and oppression move me. I believe the world can be a better place, and intend to participate in seeing this become so.

Kate is hott. She's my first mate.
I want to directly interrupt and frustrate the building of the world's walls, actively steal the materials, and use them to participate in constructing bridges.

I have organized and/or continue to participate with many different social justice and solidarity groups, including the Occupy movement, Freeskools, anarchist bookfairs and markets, prison abolitionists, Food not Bombs, The Palestine Solidarity Network, Friends of the Lubicon and various environmental actions.

My education and ministry experience began in the heart of conservative Canadian evangelical culture. Though I remain evangelical (and stubbornly refuse to be otherwise unless I should ever be kicked out), my perspective on and practice of my faith has changed considerably in the last fifteen years. I am grieved by the idolatry to greed and selfishness in the North American church, and the hijacking of the gospel by capitalism and nationalism, both of which have nothing to do with the Jesus I love.

My first book, Radical Religion, a book on the very practical and social-justice motivated epistle of James, is the first of a series that I hope to become a collection of notes on every book of the Christian New Testament. Radical Pastor, a book on the early Christian church’s egalitarian and just social structure, and Radical Freedom, on the personal and social consequences of the gospel, will be the next books in this series, and will be released soon by the Koinonia Media Collective.

I serve as a pastor in a small church of wretched scoundrels and thieves, myself the worst of them. We represented punks and plumbers, hipsters and anarchists, alcoholics and straightedge vegans, artists and addicts, physicists and electricians, straight and otherwise, immigrants and the disabled, charismatics and conservatives, now rescued from ourselves and redeemed to true life by our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We are a crew of scallywags sailing through life together under the flag of the cross, the slaughtered lamb our King. We are all equals both in our skullduggery and our salvation. Our lives are forfeit to true justice and peace. Our hope is for heaven on earth.

Kate and I hitchhike to Edmonton in 2008

Are you really a pirate?

 Are you really a pastor?

Is there such a thing as a Pirate Pastor?
Yes. My first pastor (that I remember) was a pirate. He illegally pirated American Christian television and broadcast it in Canada, also illegally, outside the jurisdiction of the CRTC, for good or ill.

Isn't being a pirate bad?

Why do you want to be identified with a pirate?
I like pirates. And zombies. But I think I'm more like a pirate. Or an outlaw.

Is there anything at all about you that can justify calling yourself a pirate?
I steal sermon material without permission. And I refer to my congregants as "me hearties".
My son makes me feel like Superman.

Plus, everything I wrote in my bio is true, and kind of pirate-y.

Also, I have some really bad tattoos.

And a hook.

That last part was a lie.

No more questions, please.
My daughter and I in 2011

**This part of the page is under construction, people. Deal with it.**

Other Blogs


Shawn Birss on 100 Huntley Street. No kidding.


A blog entry about our church - 2009

Another blog entry about our church - 2009

Christian men's magazine "Seven" (Promise Keepers) - 2009

Edmonton Journal - Way of the Cross - 2009